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Women to Inspire You: Breaking down barriers and doing what they love



 In celebration of International Women’s Day!

There’s nothing more inspiring than someone following their passion – especially when they have had to overcome societal norms, adversity and discrimination to do so. That’s why this International Women’s Day, we are celebrating eight PADI Women who stand out and inspire us daily.  They have overcome many obstacles to turn their passion into a life mission to save the ocean – the planet’s largest and most important ecosystem that desperately needs their help. What’s more, through their bold choices and by living through example, they are encouraging others to do the same.

1. Using Science to Save Sharks: Gador Muntaner

Image credit: Rafael Fernandez

Originally from Spain, Gádor put on a mask, fins, and snorkel for the first time in Mallorca Island when she was 3 years old. When she turned 16, she got her open water diver certification and that’s when she knew that she would dedicate her life to the ocean. At 22 she achieved her PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification in order to be able to share with everybody what she loves the most: the feeling of diving.

In 2016 she moved to La Paz, Mexico to turn her passion into her work: the study and conservation of sharks. She did her undergraduate thesis studying sharks, as she had always dreamed, becoming a student of Pelagios Kakunjá Marine Conservation. Her research project focused on the movement patterns of the silvertip shark (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) in the Revillagigedo Archipelago.

Currently, she is pursuing her master’s degree studying contamination in Great White sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) tissues in Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. This love for sharks has led Gádor to travel the world–most recently running a scientific study in Spain on the positive impact sustainable shark tourism can have on the ocean.

Follow her mission to save sharks on Instagram: @gadormunta

2. Building a New Generation of Ocean Guardians: Zandile Ndhlovu

Image credit: Jacki Bruniquei

Zandile Ndhlovu is the first Black African Freediving Instructor in South Africa and the founder of The Black Mermaid Foundation, an organisation seeking to improve diversity in marine conservation and sports. Zandile’s inspiring work centres around creating the magical first encounter that exposes youth – most of whom would never have the opportunity –  to experience the ocean. As an ocean conservationist, diversity and inclusion specialist, and avid speaker and storyteller, she uses these skills to advocate for a blue planet in which the ocean is accessible – and protected – by all, regardless of race, gender and religion.

Zandile is a change agent, passionate about human potential being the critical currency that creates the worlds we want to live in while focusing on the collective ability to bring change. She’s leading that change one young person at a time in South Africa – and around the world.

Follow her journey to creating more diversity in the ocean on Instagram: @zandithemermaid

3 + 4. Giving the Ocean a Voice: Mermaid Elle and Brandee Anthony

Image credit: Brandee Anthony

Brandee Anthony is a professional mermaid, photographer and PADI Mermaid instructor based out of Vero Beach, Florida. She started her dive company, Mermaid Freedive, in 2019 and offers guests the opportunity to become PADI Freedive and Mermaid certified in an all-inclusive retreat format. Brandee has over 1.7 million online followers where she shares her love for the water and creating content that brings happiness to her viewers through photography and videography.

Follow her mission to help others connect with themselves and the water on Instagram: @brandee_anthony

Image credit: @themermaidelle

Mermaid Elle is the most popular mermaid on TikTok and makes a full-time living splashing her tail as a PADI Mermaid Instructor. She takes great pride in growing teaching more mermaids, saying “becoming a mermaid is really just being yourself in your most powerful form. We call ourselves mer-sisters and mer-brothers because mermaids are one species, one family, one school of fish!” She’s already underway training up other mermaids as an official PADI Mermaid Instructor and is making a full-time living as a professional mermaid.

Elle believes that it is the mer-persons role to speak for an ocean – and its creatures – that can’t speak for itself. She’s a real-life Ariel using her skills to drive more focus upon marine conservation.

Follow her mission to inspire others to live their best mermaid life on TikTok: @themermaidelle

5. Creating More Youth Conservationists: Julia Aveline Rabenjoro

Julia is one of the youngest, and most “decorated” PADI diver with several certifications under her dive belt. Julia started her diving journey with PADI on her 8th birthday in Sabah, Borneo. Julia went on to obtain her Junior Open Water when she was 10 and her Junior Advanced when she was 12. Julia is now 14 and has just taken her Junior Rescue Diver course. Julia also started freediving at the end of last year and she is now a certified PADI Basic Freediver. Diving has helped Julia to find her passion in conserving the ocean, which caused her to create the Seed of Hope Facebook page to raise awareness and funds for ocean causes, while inspiring other young ocean advocates to do the same.

Follow her mission to plant seeds of hope in communities on Facebook: @JuliaIntoTheBlue

6. Making The Ocean Accessible to All: Cody Unser

Image credit: Cody Unser

Cody Unser, a daughter of Indy 500 racing greats, founded The Cody Unser First Step Foundation at the age of 13 to raise awareness, medical collaboration and quality of life for Transverse Myelitis, the autoimmune condition that left her suddenly paralyzed as a teen  in 1999. Her foundation’s focus on mainstreaming adaptive scuba for over a decade and its potential as a therapeutic tool in exercise science is creating a buzz in the medical and dive industries. Regardless of the injury or condition, Cody advocates for others to become adaptive divers as well. Through her foundation, she established Cody’s Great Scuba Adventure, which uses scuba diving as a therapeutic and psychological tool for people living with different forms of paralysis. Her  documentary, “Sea of Change,” explored the neurological and psychological effects of scuba on a group of chosen paralyzed veterans.

She has become a leading advocate for people living with disabilities and spends much of her time traveling across the country to deliver keynote speeches, attend medical symposia and help other grassroots organisations that have similar missions.

Learn more about how Cody is breaking down barriers on PADI’s Podcast: Dive Stories.

7 + 8. Showing the World How Amazing the Ocean is: Elise Gibbins and Mia Stawinski

Image credit: Elise Gibbins

Mia and Elise are award winning underwater and topside filmmakers and photographers. Elise is a PADI Divemaster who harnesses her cinematography skills to drive awareness and has collaborated with NGO’s and commercial enterprises who are motivated to drive positive environmental change. Elise produces world class content campaigns that connect audiences to nature’s significance and humanity’s relationship with it, with a passion for highlighting endangered ecosystems.

Image credit: Mia Stawinski

They have teamed up to combine their passion and love for the underwater world with their background in underwater cinematography and photography.  Their goal is to highlight the beauty of the world’s magnificent marine life and landscapes while encouraging divers of all genders to explore and protect the ocean.

Follow their award winning content on Instagram: @wandervicariously and @elisegibbins

PADI  is the world’s largest ocean exploration and diver organisation, operating in 186 countries and territories, with a global network of more than 6,600 dive centres and resorts and over 128,000 professional members worldwide. PADI embodies a global commitment to ocean health and enables people around the world to seek adventure and save the ocean through underwater education, life-changing experiences and travel. Find out more at

Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Non-Hazardous Material by Fred Lockwood



Non-Hazardous Material is the latest book in the Jack Collier Series by Fred Lockwood.  Our story begins with one of our protagonists Sandro finding himself in serious trouble with the police and with no recollection of what happened.  With the future of Marine Salvage & Investigation Company uncertain, as well as Sandro’s future, will Jack and Sandro get to the truth before time runs out?

With everything on the line, Jack attempts to salvage the cargo of “non-hazardous material” from a sunken freighter while a shaken Sandro prepares for a legal battle.  Will the Marine Salvage & Investigation company be left without one of their founders?  Can Jack help his friend without aiding criminals?

As Sandro’s reputation and freedom are threatened and a lucrative contract hangs in the balance, can Sandro’s lawyers and the police investigations uncover the real story? 

In his latest book, Non-Hazardous Material, Fred Lockwood delivers a gripping read once again, with realistically portrayed details of cargo salvage and well researched technicalities of saturation diving.  This is a quick page turner with our heroes fighting for justice and dive adventures in the cold North Sea.  A warning for some readers, this book contains description of sexual assault which some readers may find upsetting or triggering. 

As with the whole series so far we found it an entertaining read and look forward to the next in the series.  For more information about Fred Lockwood’s Jack Collier Series, you can check out the reviews of his previous books here on Scubaverse.

Title: Non-Hazardous Material

Author: Fred Lockwood

ISBN: 979-8387003240

Pegasus Publishers

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Overboard!



Overboard (2010), by Michael J. Tougias is a true story. It brings together interviews and statements of those involved and weaves them into a compelling account.

It should have been a five to six day, six hundred mile, exhilarating sail from Connecticut to Bermuda. They would sail from the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean, through the warm Gulf Stream, to their destination. Captain Tom Tighe and his sailboat Almeisan, a forty-five foot, two masted ketch, had made the crossing almost fifty times. On 5th May 2005 he was again making the trip with his friend and first mate Lochlin Reidy and three passengers. The passengers were all sailors, with different levels of experience and all eager for the blue water experience. Tom and Lochlin would sail back to the US with a new crew, the passengers would fly home.

Sailors and non-sailors alike will appreciate the account of Captain Tighe’s preparation for the voyage as well as the anticipation and apprehension of the passengers. Tougias cleverly lulls the reader into a false sense of security as the sail boat departs. The lack of wind, and having to motor the first few days, merely delays the drama that unfolds. The drama, a storm, builds at the worst possible point of the crossing – almost equidistant between a safe US haven and Bermuda. The storm will become one of the worst in living memory. To head for the US coast will take them towards the storm. To continue to Bermuda seems the sensible decision; it isn’t. Tension builds as the storm develops. It is accompanied by an almost forensic account of the sea conditions and what it is like to be on board a small sailboat in violent, unrelenting storm. Few of us will have experience a storm of such magnitude. Indeed, I suspect few of us would wish to do so. The account is vivid.

Passengers and crew are washed overboard but amazingly recovered. The sail boat suffers irreparable damage, the life raft deployed and lost, a May Day broadcast. It is a drama that sees thirty, forty foot waves crashing onto the sailboat, turning it upside down and gradually destroying it. At the height of the storm, as an attempt is made to launch the life raft two people loose contact with the boat; three remain onboard.

There are several memorable sections in Overboard. Undoubtedly one is the super human way two people, alone in a vast ocean and pounded by massive waves, try to survive. The fortitude they display is truly remarkable – neither should have survived. Another is the ingenuity the three people on the boat display in their attempt to call for help. Also noteworthy is the self-sacrifice and dedication the US Coast Guard and US Navy display in their determination to rescue the crew and passengers of the Almeisan.

In addition to a gripping narrative there are fifteen photographs, maps and charts together with fulsome acknowledgements. If I have a criticism of the book it relates to the numerous back stories that are present. They detract from, rather than support the otherwise dramatic account. However, these should not prevent you from marvelling at the author’s account

Michael J. Tougias is the author of nineteen books including several true life marine dramas including: Ten Hours Until Dawn (2006), Fatal Forecast (2009) and Finest Hours 2015). He lives in Massachusetts, USA.

Overboard (2010) by Michael J. Tougias

  • New York: Scribner            
  • ISNB 9781439145763        
  • 212pp

Find out more about the reviewer, Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author at

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